Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 14, 2021

How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

In a world that is full of external factors that we cannot control, it is becoming more and more important to at least control ourselves.

Thinking positively can have a tremendous effect on our lives. By eliminating negative thoughts, we’re able to at least influence the part of our lives that we can control: our own mindset.

In this article, you will learn how to think positive and ditch the negative thoughts. Before we dive into the step-by-step guide on how to do so, I’d like to share with you how I learned to thinking positive the hard way…

At the start of 2019, I was quite stressed at work with multiple tight deadlines. I was constantly worried and the stress was affecting my ability to sleep. Numerous nights in a row, I would experience insomnia, where I had a staring contest with the ceiling because my mind would simply not stop thinking about all the stressful things I had to deal with.

I eventually got up and wrote everything down. Every single thought that rushed through my head, I wrote it down in detail. This allowed me to do a couple of things:

  • It made everything relatable
  • It showed me that every obstacle that was on my mind was not that big on its own. I was only stressed because these obstacles were big in numbers, while independently, these obstacles were just minor things that I could overcome.
  • It allowed me to think positively about these little obstacles and how I was going to conquer them one at a time.
  • Writing down my negative emotions allowed me to wipe them clean from my mind. Think of it as a laptop: after having browsed for a long time, I was able to clear my RAM and start fresh. My mind was finally clear from negative thoughts.

After doing this, I was finally able to sleep, and the next day, I slowly started to tackle these small obstacles.

This is just one example of how I manage to think positively and eliminate negative thoughts from dominating my mind.

Here are 4 actionable steps you can follow in order to think positive:

Step 1: Turn Every Obstacle into Smaller “Challenges”

In the intro, you read that I was stressed because I was worrying about a big number of small obstacles as opposed to one big devastating obstacle. Writing down my worries allowed me to zoom out and look at the bigger picture.

Advertising

As a result, I observed my problems as single challenges that I could overcome.

When you’re currently surrounded with negativity – whether that’s because of a stressful project or problems in a relationship – you should try to dissect that challenge into different sub-challenges.

For example, if you have to deliver a huge presentation at work on Friday, try to think of this big task as multiple smaller tasks:

  • Find sources to support your presentation
  • Think of interesting anecdotes, introductions or examples
  • Create a general outline of your presentation
  • Complete the first 5 slides
  • Add a small video or puzzle to your presentation
  • Finish the presentation
  • Think of a keyword for each slide to remember what you have to say
  • Practice the presentation in order to finish it within 30 minutes
  • Deliver a great presentation

While this example may not be relevant to you, the message is all the same. You can tackle pretty much any obstacle – no matter how big it may seem – as long as you take it one step at the time.

That’s how you can eliminate negative thoughts such as “I can never do that” or “I’ll never be good enough” or “I’ll never reach that goal” from controlling your actions.

Take it one step at the time and pretty much any goal becomes manageable.

Step 2: Realize That Positive Thoughts Can Be a Choice

Happiness is determined as follows:[1]

  • 50% is determined by genetics
  • 10% is determined by external factors
  • 40% is determined by your own outlook

This determination has been studied by numerous researchers, and while the details differ, the results all share the same observation:

Your happiness can be influenced by your own thoughts.

Advertising

Even though there are things in life that we cannot control, we can still often control how we react to these things.

In that sense, we might not get to control 100% of our happiness but we can still influence a big chunk of it.

I believe we can learn to influence the 40% of our happiness that is determined by our own personal outlook. Happiness is a choice, and you can learn to recognize these situations on your own.[2]

How does this help you to think positive and eliminate negative thoughts?

Well, because this shows you that it pays off to learn how to think positively in difficult situations.

By developing this skill, you can really increase happiness in your life. It is definitely not always easy, but you can change a bad day into a good one just by focusing on the positives instead of the negatives.

This is the reason why I love this quote of Winston Churchill:

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity whereas an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Step 3: Spend Time with the People That Have a Positive Influence on Your Life and Be Grateful for Them

Almost everybody has a small circle of people that they trust and love, whether that’s a partner, family or friends. These people have a positive influence on your life.

Advertising

I want you to focus on spending more time with these people. When you’re surrounded by negativity, you are more likely to postpone activities that require you to be outgoing. You’d rather be lazy and watch Netflix all day than to go outside and meet up with your friend.

You must try to break out of your comfort zone and spend more time with the people who actually have a positive influence on your happiness. These people can act as a support net for the moments when you’re feeling down. This might sound intimidating and scary, but it’s a step that should not be underestimated.

Even when you don’t feel comfortable sharing your challenges with these people, there’s another thing you can actively do to initiate positive thoughts; and that’s to be grateful that these people are in your life:

  • Be grateful that you have parents who support you, no matter what you do.
  • Be grateful for the friends with whom you can laugh your ass off.
  • Be grateful that you have a healthy and loving partner.
  • Be grateful that you have a kid that looks up to you and thinks you are the best.

Being grateful might sound like a rather pointless thing to do. Why would being grateful help you in thinking more positively and eliminating negative thoughts?

Well, the answer is simple.

Being grateful forces you to think of the good things that you already have in your life. This allows you to face your issues with optimism, instead of negativity. People that actively practice gratitude are much better able to deal with toxic emotions.

So what do you have to do?

Go out there and meet up with the people you love, and be grateful for having these people in your life.

To help inspire you to feel more grateful, here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life.

Advertising

Step 4: Don’t Give up After a Setback

So you had a bad day last week? Or maybe a terrible week in which you allowed negative thoughts to control your life? Who cares!

We are only human, so we’re bound to experience a day of negativity every once in a while. It’s important to realize that everybody occasionally experiences negative thoughts in their life. Eternal happiness does not exist. Even the happiest man alive has experienced negativity and sadness on some days.

What you need to when this inevitably happens to you:

  • Don’t let this set you back.
  • Don’t interpret it as a failure
  • Don’t let it stop you from trying to think positive

You see, even the most optimistic person experiences negativity on occasion. Sure, we can try to be as positive as possible every day, but we have to accept that negativity is something that we have to deal with from time to time.

So what if you’re engulfed in negative thoughts today? Screw it and know that tomorrow is a new day and that you can try to work on this again.

Take a look at this article and learn about Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them).

Final Thoughts

In the end, there’s no arguing that we cannot control 100% of our happiness. We can’t stand in front of a mirror, repeat the words “I am thinking happy thoughts only” ninety-nine times and accept to suddenly be happy.

It doesn’t work like that.

However, there are a number of things we can do to at least improve our mindset in the situations where we do get to choose how we react to external factors.

I hope that you have a better idea of what you can do in these situations. Sooner than later, you will influence your own mindset to think positively and to eliminate negative thoughts.

More About Positivity And Happiness

Featured photo credit: Lucas Marconnet via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] For a State of Happiness: Happiness: it’s not just your genes, stupid!
[2] Tracking Happiness: How Happiness Can Be A Choice

More by this author

Hugo Huyer

Author at Tracking Happiness, lifelong happiness tracker and passionate about all things mental health and well-being.

13 Ways to Seize the Moment and Enjoy Life More How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts Stuck in a Rut? 6 Steps to Break Free and Live a Happy Life Again 8 Tips for Coping with Anxiety During the Midlife Crisis The Key to Happiness and Leading a Fulfilling Life

Trending in Positive Thinking

1 One Solid Practice for Tackling Low Self-Esteem 2 Mentally Strong People Mindset: Accept Failures Without Doubting Yourself 3 6 Unconventional and Easy Ways to Help You Become Mentally Stronger 4 How to Think Positive Every Day 5 We Don’t Need a Lot of Self-Help Books, We Need Resilience

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 18, 2021

One Solid Practice for Tackling Low Self-Esteem

One Solid Practice for Tackling Low Self-Esteem

Psychology websites and self-help gurus often suggest an exercise for tackling low self-esteem issues. They say to write daily in a journal and list accomplishments for the day: one way you helped someone and one experience you enjoyed.

This is a decent idea, as studies have shown that gratitude is a powerful anti-depressant. In addition, practicing gratitude has been shown to build a positive self-esteem “habit” of sorts. However, this practice seems to lack the “umph” low self-esteemers need – it fails to get to the root of the issue. A gratitude practice is a bit more relevant to someone suffering from depression (e.g. listing experiences you enjoyed could evoke happiness), but not necessarily higher self-esteem. These are two separate feelings.

Low self-esteem can be a nasty, all-encompassing problem that plagues individuals throughout their entire lives. Many desperately hide it, while others wallow in it, hoping to gain the approval and sympathy of others. Low self-esteem can overshadow who you are, ruin entire days of your life, give people the wrong impression of you, and discourage you from pursuing great opportunities.

Advertising

Worst of all, we often feel like we have little to no control over how we feel about ourselves. “I’m overweight, so how am I supposed to feel confident?” Or, “I got fired recently, so how on earth would I feel competent?” External circumstances are given all the power.

Recounting past accomplishments is certainly a good start, but for someone who has just suffered a huge blow to their self-esteem, or someone who has dealt with chronic low self-esteem their while life, it’s going to take a lot more than this sort of exercise.

So what else must you do to tackle your low self esteem?

Advertising

Remind yourself of your rights

People with low self-esteem have a tendency to mercilessly berate themselves and even let others walk all over them. If it gets severe enough, they may even lose touch with their desires and goals, or stop pursuing things they enjoy. They start to forget themselves.

So instead of writing down past accomplishments, why not write down what you deserve every day?

I have the right to…

Advertising

  • take a full day off from work
  • not care about what people think
  • wear whatever I want without explanation
  • make my environment safe and comfortable
  • go after what seems fun
  • tell people what I actually think

etc, etc, etc.

At the end of this list, you won’t merely feel happier, you’ll feel powerful–and power is exactly what low self-esteemers lack and need more of (at least that’s how they feel).

Develop a daily habit of listing everything you deserve in a notebook, or grab a huge poster board and display your list unabashedly on your wall. Add to it every day, or make a new one every day. Even if your list is always the same, you are training your brain to view yourself as powerful and deserving. Tackling low self-esteem isn’t a one-time task, but a nurturing lifestyle you must adopt.

So, what if you’re so out of touch with your rights, you’re not even sure what they are (or aren’t)?

Start with this basic rule: Your rights include anything that: a) improves your life, and b) doesn’t cause damage to others’ lives. So, venting anger at people who annoy you? Maybe not so much. But directly telling someone that they are making you uncomfortable when they are? Definitely your right.

Even if you have a healthy level of self-esteem, this is an uplifting exercise that can bring clarity and even help with decision-making. If you’re on the low side, this exercise can serve as a vital reminder to stop ignoring your rights and let the negative feelings fall to the wayside. Go on and have yourself a (healthy) power trip.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Read Next